Do I have it right or wrong?

By Steve Moran

I am closing in on the end of the book Nine Lies About Work and the last lie is “Leadership is a Thing”. The chapter title will likely really intrigue you and I promise this will be in my top two or three reads this year. I am, at least in this article, directly addressing the fundamental premise, but as a subset, I came to a startling and disturbing answer to a question I have been wrestling with for years. Here is the question:

Why is it that so many senior living leaders, particularly executive directors, don’t really do anything to improve their leadership skills?

Here is the stark, somewhat depressing, realization: most of them are not really leaders, rather they are managers.

The Evidence

When I go to C-Suite conferences, I know most everyone there and most of them know me. This is all about me working really hard to build relationships and talk about the things that inspire them, challenge them, worry them, and excite them.

But . . .

When I attend state association meetings or even some of the national shows where there are a lot of executive directors and regionals, it is pretty common to get “never heard of Senior Housing Forum” or “Steve Moran”. No ego here, well not much anyway, but my conversations tell me they are not reading anything that they don’t have to — meaning they read the stuff coming from corporate, the stuff related to their particular state regulations, and maybe they attend enough sessions to fill their CE requirements.

The Big Why?

I say these people are not actually leaders, they are managers because leaders are always thinking about this stuff, wondering how to get better, reading books, attending events that are not industry-specific, they are getting to know other great leaders. In truth, not every person is a leader, and the way you know you are a leader is that people follow you voluntarily.

The reality is that most people are not leaders, they are followers and there is nothing at all wrong with that. In fact most leaders . . . maybe all, are also followers in some areas of their lives. Maybe even in many areas of their lives.

Why It’s Important

I want to say you can have a great manager who really cares about their people and runs a successful community. I think you can have even a reasonably successful regional or CEO who can make money. But I think only leaders will really shine.

It is impossible to turn someone who is not a leader into a leader, but it does not mean you cannot be effective in helping managers manage better, but it is a different track. It is also possible that there are some leaders out there who don’t yet know they are leaders and it is possible to assist them in speeding up the process. All you need to do with those people is give them some starter inspiration and freedom to do their thing and they will be on the way.

Do I have it right or wrong?